Hamlet even later in the monologue when he

states, “that guilty creatures sitting at a play / Have by the very
cunning of the scene / Been struck so to the soul” (2.2.508-510), which similarly
captures what happens to the prince after watching the First Player’s captivating
speech about Hecuba. The actor’s performance prompts Hamlet to engage in a dramatic
monologue filled with not only self-criticism, but also intense verbal abuse, all
of which comes into play after he begins with, “Now I am alone”
(2.2.468). Thus, there is a barrier between the traditional narrative of fulfilling
family honour and of being “prompted to … revenge by heaven and
hell” (2.2.503) and Hamlet’s narrative of emotional and moral struggles. Although
a short theatrical act causes Hamlet to have a disturbing flow of thoughts through
self-inflicted insults, it paradoxically leads him to instead use the theatre
as a means of relieving his uncertainty. This particular passage, as a result, demonstrates
that the soliloquy becomes an isolated space where Hamlet can freely deliver his
most authentic performance of himself.

            While in solitude, Hamlet expresses
his highly negative self-reflection, which sheds light on his fragmented state
as both “the son of a dear murdered” (2.2.502) and a man of interiority.

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This tension brings him to yell out, “Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave
am I!” (2.2.469), and even later in the monologue when he then says, “Why,
what an ass am I!” (2.2.501). These two explicit lines show all the
troubled feelings he has as a result of straddling the line between carrying
out his uncle’s murder and “catching the conscience of the King”
(2.2.524). The inverted syntax, or in other words, the placement of
“am” and “I” mirror his inner torment and the exclamations
accentuate his sudden outbursts of anger and frustration. In also calling
himself a “peasant slave” (2.2.469), an “ass” (2.2.501) and
a “pigeon-livered” (2.2.496) man who “lacks gall”
(2.2.496), Hamlet’s choice of diction draws attention to the weak and demeaning
image he has of himself, placing emphasis on his obvious disappointment. His view
that he is beneath what is expected of him pierces through the low-class and
animalistic descriptors he uses. His words demonstrate the yearning to be as
passionate for revenge as the First Player was when he powerfully captured the
raw emotion of Hecuba’s grief by having, as Hamlet mentions, his “visage
wanned” (2.2.473), “a broken voice” (2.2.475) and
“tears in his eyes” (2.2.474). Unlike the player, he by contrast lacks
the same theatrical passion the First Player maintains and verbally abuses him
as punishment. This fragmented state is later enhanced when he utters out the
simile, “Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell, / Must like a whore
unpack my heart with words / And fall a-cursing like a very drab, / A stallion!
Fie upon’t, foh!” (2.2.503-506). The progression of the comparison from
“whore” (2.2.504) to “stallion” (2.2.506) and the
fast-paced rhythm of these lines highlight the fast-paced rhythm of his growing
negative self-judgment in the soliloquy. In addition, his series of rhetorical
questions place emphasis on his growing uncertainty, which he shows when
saying: “Who calls me villain, breaks my pate across, / Plucks off my beard
and blows it in my face” (2.2.491-492). At the same time, Hamlet appears
to have a lack of confidence in his capabilities, violently symbolized through
the breaking of his “pate”
(2.2.491) and the plucking of his
“beard” (2.2.492). As a result, the abusive connotations of his rhetorical
questions and his self-comparisons together express his traumatized mentality
and his state of being out of sync with the narrative of duty fulfillment and avenging
his father’s death.

            However, since the soliloquy gives
Hamlet some creative space, his progressive verbal abuse becomes the
metaphorical backbone that gives him a slight bit of certainty. After mumbling,
“Hmm—I have heard” (2.2.507), Hamlet switches the soliloquy’s focus
from a series of descriptors, such as “Am I a coward?” (2.2.490), to
a sound plan of seeing whether or not Claudius is truly guilty. The soliloquy
is structured that, in this part of the monologue, Hamlet becomes more sure of
himself and his position in relation to what is happening, which he
demonstrates with his change in tone when he says, “I’ll have these
players / Play something like the murder of my father / Before mine uncle. I’ll
observe his looks; / I’ll tent him to the quick” (2.2.513-516). The
contraction of “I” and “will” becomes the way in which he
asserts his determination to see whether or not “the spirit that he has
seen / may be a dev’l” (2.2.517-518). In repeatedly saying that he will, Hamlet, in a way, seems to finally
commit to a plan and motivate himself to act on what he states — something that
has troubled him the moment he witnessed the First Player’s successful
rendition of Hecuba. This passage further places theatre and the concept of
revenge in conversation when Hamlet shows his ability to be visionary. An
example of this occurs when he personifies the act of murder, saying,
“though it have no tongue, will speak / With most miraculous organ”
(2.2.512-513). By bringing abstract thoughts to life, Hamlet becomes a kind of
play master or a creative artist, twisting his imagination and words, so that
he can successfully portray his role as a son of a murdered king. Hamlet showcases
his dramatic ability through his variety in language, away from the discourse
of revenge that dominates around him and, instead, plans to stage the
resolution to his doubt.

            Hamlet’s soliloquy becomes,
essentially, a place of refuge for expressing his profound and innermost thoughts.

It gives him the luxury to criticize himself as well as devise a plan to resolve
his conflicted thoughts more confidently, which he is unable to do when faced
with other characters in the play. This stream of consciousness-like monologue,
therefore, highlights the duality of Hamlet’s interiority and theatricality, and
how this tension prevents yet urges him to be the true “son of a dear
murdered” king (2.2.502).